Traveling Solo in Japan; a Young Woman’s First-time Experience
Gone are the days when traveling alone is frowned upon. Now, it’s the ticket to freedom to explore a new destination on your own.
Traveling Solo in Japan, the land of the rising sun is one of the safest places to do a solo trip. The language barrier, notwithstanding, the efficiency of this Asian country and modern technology will make the adventure a breeze.
Let me walk you through the advantages of traveling solo. You might want to try it, at least once in your lifetime.
FREEDOM TO PLAN YOUR TRIP
Though I have a number of friends who are fond of traveling, we don’t necessarily have the same exact interests. I have one who shares my passion in browsing through bookstores and taking time looking at the marvels in a museum. While I have another one who, like me, enjoys trying the local cuisine and learning about the people and its culture.
Another friend would share my interest in quirky and antique souvenir stuff. I have friends who would rather have the convenience of an arranged guided tour while yet another one would much rather have a do it yourself arrangement and be open to surprises. No worries on this if you are on your own.
I wanted to Experience the Magic of Snow
On this trip I wanted to experience the magic of snow, sans below zero temperature. Therefore I booked a flight at the tail end of winter. That way, I can still walk the street without freezing to death. For someone from the tropics, the thrill of having snowflakes fall on your hair is unlike any other. Having a white Christmas, not in December though, is a welcome change.
I also want to experience living in a traditional Japanese house. Although without the convenience of a hotel room, it was certainly an experience for the books. I had the rare chance of sleeping in a tatami mat and having no chairs but just a low table to have my meals. Proof of how safe Japan is, this traditional house had no lock and bolts that our modern houses have and yet I slept like a baby all throughout the trip.
It has always been my dream to see a real sumo wrestler. I went to the Ryoguku district to see one. Though I was not able to see a live match, the museum has all the information. and what not that satisfied my curiosity. There is also a continuous showing of a sumo match on television. As a bonus, I was able to see a group of sumo in their garb and one passing me by on his bike.
I was Not Rushed while Traveling Solo in Japan
Since I did not join a full guided tour, I only arranged two local day tours for Mt. Fuji and another one to explore Nikko; I was in no rush to enjoy the five other days in on my 7 day trip. I walked the streets of Harajuku, Ginza, Ueno, and Shibuya without worrying that my companions had other plans for the day.
It was nice day and I took my sweet time admiring the anime garbed youth in Takeshita-dori without guilt. I also stopped awhile in the subway stations while admiring the alighting elderly ladies in their colorful kimonos and the gents in their wide pants. It’s amazing that in modern Japan, you still see everyday folks in their traditional wear. And this is Tokyo, too!
1) WAKE UP AND SLEEP AT YOUR CONVENIENCE
Since it is a vacation, I woke up at my own time and enjoyed my morning green tea paired with sushi. I lingered and soaked in the beauty of the place. In some places of interest I stayed awhile without worry that I had to head back to my rented minka to get to sleep early for the following day’s activities.
2) EAT WHAT YOU LIKE
One of the greatest pleasures of a trip is trying the local fares. In Japan, even the food in the convenience stores, and the basements of their malls and department stores are of restaurant quality. I also grabbed bento boxes and savored my food in the parks.
I went to the Tsukiji market one early one morning and tried the fresh catch of the day and a delicious chunk of tamago. It was amazing to see a wet market so clean.
3) BE MORE AWARE AND RESPONSIBLE
Traveling solo means you have to depend on yourself. While it is easy to be overwhelmed with the beauty and novelty of the place, knowing that you have no one to look out for you, no matter how safe the place, you still can’t afford to be careless. You need to be responsible and be aware of your surroundings at all times. It brings out the ninja in you.
4) MAKE NEW FRIENDS
While looking at the subway map can be confusing, after a while you get used to it. It helps that the Japanese are naturally polite and helpful. When they are unable to explain where I should go, they accompany me instead to my destination.
For the two local tours I joined in, Nikko and Mt. Fuji, I was able to make new friends as well, who to this day I still communicate with. They also invited me to visit their countries.
The new found friends also became my unofficial photographers.
5) DISCOVER YOURSELF
The best part of traveling solo is discovering that being alone is not necessarily being lonely. It made me realize that I am comfortable with myself and my own company.
So the next time you feel intimidated with traveling solo, especially traveling solo in Japan, give it a shot. You might like it so much; you won’t mind doing it again.
Author: Gigi Galang
Gigi is a world traveler. In this write-up she tells of her first experience in Japan. It was a very safe, enjoyable, and inspiring trip. One she won’t forget.